Curator: Haim Gitler

What's in a Coin?:
Tracing the Evolution of Jewish Numismatics

Many people regard numismatics simply as coin collecting, a pleasant hobby for youngsters or retirees; they are unaware that the study of coins is actually a broad field of historical investigation which studies cultural evolution through one of the most basic aspects of human life: money.

Abraham Bromberg did appreciate the significance of these tiny witnesses to the past. He was one of the great coin collectors of our time and a devoted supporter of the Israel Museum's Numismatic Department.
He donated the major part of his collection, which is regarded as the most important private collection of ancient Jewish coins ever assembled, to the Israel Museum.

We were honored to carry out his legacy and introduce the public to the fruits of his labors by mounting an exhibition in his memory. Almost all of the coins presented in the exhibition More Than Money were donated by Mr. Bromberg or acquired through the generous fund he left to our department.
Together with related material - maps, manuscripts, artworks, and stamps - the coins are arranged in chronological sections that trace the interest in ancient Jewish coins from the eleventh century until the present day. It is this story that captivated Abraham Bromberg throughout his forty-eight years of coin collecting, and we believe that it can continue to fascinate museum visitors today.

Abraham Bromberg
June 18, 1914 - September 14, 1998

Excerpts from "A Word from the Collector"
The Abraham Bromberg Collection of Jewish Coins,
Superior Galleries Auction Catalogue, December 5, 1991

I was born on June 18, 1914 in Leipzig, the son of a fur trader. Because of our family business, I lived in many countries, adopting all and yet none as truly my own.

As a boy, I collected stamps; the passion grew, and eventually I formed a comprehensive collection of the Mandate postage stamps of Palestine, including all the rare overprints and perforation varieties.

My meeting with Leo Mildenberg in 1950, and the purchase from him at Bank Leu in Zurich of two ancient Jewish Coins, made me change my field of interest. At that time, since I could not afford to collect both stamps and coins, I sold my philatelic holdings and began to collect Jewish coins seriously. I know well by now that obtaining the advice of experts is indispensable in forming a substantial collection.

While I feel that the "Year Four" half bronzes (nos. 73-74 in the 1991 Auction Catalogue) are my favorites, and I consider them the most fascinating of all ancient Jewish coins, the obtaining of the great rarities struck in the Jewish War - the prototype shekel and quarter shekel in this catalogue and the half shekel of "Year Four" and shekel of "Year Five" (no. 389 in the 1992 Auction Catalogue) - was filled with great excitement and some intrigue.

Bronze coin of the Jewish War against Rome, 69 CE
No. 74, 1991 Auction Catalogue

Shekel, "Year Five" of the Jewish War against Rome, silver, 70 CE
No. 389, 1992 Auction Catalogue

I believe when you collect you must become a dealer as well, indirectly, to know all about the market itself, the buying and selling. You should also become an expert in one specialized field, so you can know a little bit more than others; only then does true joy begin.

The Abraham Bromberg Collection of Jewish Coins, Part I,
Superior Galleries Auction Catalogue, December 5, 1991
The Abraham Bromberg Collection of Jewish Coins, Part II,
Superior Galleries Auction Catalogue, December 10, 1992

Personal diaries of Abraham Bromberg in which he kept records of the
coins he already had and those he still needed to complete his collection.